A Guide to eBook Distribution.
Once you have finished writing, the next step is to get your eBook formatted and approved. After your eBook is approved, the final step is to have your eBook available for the world to read. You can send your eBook to various platforms that allow you to reach more readers.
How do you make your eBook available for readers around the world? To know more about it, we need to look at eBook distribution.
What is eBook Distribution?
eBook distribution is the process by which you can make your eBook available on online retail platforms for download and reading. Distribution of eBooks can be made possible by the online retails platforms, or through eBook aggregators, or by using both.
There are numerous online retail platforms and aggregators available to distribute your eBook. Before we dive into it, a few essential factors needed before you decide to self-publish are pricing an eBook and distributing it. The factors include:
1. eBook Formats:
The two major eBook formats used by eBook distributors and retailers are EPUB and MOBI. All major distributors use the EPUB format, and Amazon specifically uses MOBI.
2. Professional Cover Design:
You will also a need an amazing cover for your eBook. In addition to the eBook format, you also need to include a cover file. It is vital to check the dimensions of the cover required by each retailer/distributor.
Each distributor might have different dimensions and requisites, and it is better to know these specifications beforehand. It will save you and the cover designer a lot of time and effort. Be sure to hire a professional to design the book’s cover.
Most eBook retailers like Amazon don’t need your eBook to have an ISBN, whereas other platforms like Draft2Digital gives you a free ISBN.
You don’t need an ISBN for eBook publication. But it is always advisable to get an ISBN for your eBook since it gives you the freedom to control your brand.
Once you have a well-formatted eBook and a professional cover, your eBook is ready to be distributed. There are two ways to get your eBook out for the world to read: Direct eBook Distribution Platforms and using eBook aggregators.
Direct eBook Distribution
You’re eBook ready in the EPUB or MOBIformat. You can publish it on various online platforms. You can upload your eBook file to platforms like:
- Amazon Kindle
- Barnes & Noble
- Google Play
Each platform has its own eBook publishing guidelines where you can get your eBook published and distributed. When you go directly to these platforms for publication, it promises high royalties. There is no separate cost for the distribution. You can get your eBook distributed with no delays.
When you go with direct distribution, it also means you need to manage separate accounts and get the eBook file and metadata ready according to each platform’s requirements. If you have any changes that need to be made with the eBook, you need to make the changes with each platform.
It makes the task tough for you since you need to follow reports from different places. You can use aggregators to make the task easier.
What is an eBook Aggregator?
eBook aggregators receive your eBook file and distribute it to more than one eBook retailer like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc. They get your eBook to many stores at once, aggregate the retailers, combine the metadata and sales reports across all platforms.
The eBook aggregators make money by charging fees or keep a percentage of your sales. The aggregators that take a share percentage of your sales are called royalty-share aggregators. The ones that charge a fee for distributing your eBook are called flat fee aggregators.
It is one of the major aggregators distributing your eBook to all major eBook stores except Google Play and other library distributors. It is easier and faster to get your eBook published and distributed since the formatting requirements are simple.
It also has additional free tools like ‘automated back matter’ for authors, adding a section “also by this author.”
Smashwords is the first aggregator and also the first one to make a huge impact on the self-publishing front. It provided a platform for authors to sell their books and connected to big-time retailers except for Amazon and Google Play.
The formatting requirements are extensive with Smashwords. You will need to format your eBook as per their requirements and instructions.
Streetlib is another international distributor with a huge influence in Western Europe and Latin America. You can distribute your eBook to all major retailers, including Google Play and Amazon. They are way ahead of other aggregators in terms of global distribution.
They also provide other services like print-on-demand without any upfront cost and paperback distribution.
Flat fee Aggregators
PublishDrive is a new platform that distributes your eBook to all major eBook stores and does global distribution. They also have additional stores in Eastern Europe.
They also had a royalty-share aggregator, but in 2019, they made a flat fee pay per month model. This model is appealing to bestselling authors and not really favorable to authors who are just starting.
It is important to note that they don’t provide an ISBN. Instead, they develop a PublishDrive Unique Identifier (PUI), which all stores and libraries accept to distribute books.
Ingram distribution is one of the largest eBook distribution channels. With around 30,000 book stores listed under it, it is an online cataloging system that allows people to order from a book store near them under Ingram and get it delivered at their doorstep. This is more ideal for authors who target International readers.
It enables you to distribute your eBooks to all major platforms including, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.
BookBaby is a platform that offers all services from editing to marketing and distribution. Their eBook distribution package allows distributing your eBook to all major stores excluding Google Play. It also enables you to enlist your eBook in KDP Select through them.
The landscape of eBook publishing and distribution is ever-changing. It might be difficult for aspiring authors to navigate through the whole process. We hope the article has given an overview of various distribution channels available for new authors and how to get your eBooks distributed to a wide reading audience.